Appeal To Supreme Court Will Spark Crisis, Enrile Warns Ex- Chief Justice.

A day after the senate decision about the impeachment of the Ex- Chief Justice, Renato Corona, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, issued a landmark and warned him against questioning the decision in the Supreme Court.

Enrile, who presided over the 44-day impeachment trial, and masterly steered it to its conclusion last Tuesday, maintained that the Senate had “the sole power to try and decide all impeachment cases” under the Constitution.

“I will say this very frankly and I hope they understand—if they (the Supreme Court) will question the jurisdiction of the impeachment court and reverse our decision, we will defy them,” he said in an interview with ANC where he kicked off a series of TV and radio interview, apparently to explain the verdict.

“If they want a constitutional crisis in this country, they will have one.”

Corona’s impeachment marked the first ever completed impeachment trial in the country’s history. But, In 2001, a similar ouster proceeding in the Senate against then President Joseph Estrada was aborted following a prosecution walkout.

Enrile was visibly in combat mode when the issue of appeal was raised the morning after 20 of the 23 members of the Senate impeachment court voted to convict Corona for his failure to declare dollar and peso deposits in his statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN).

Enrile expressed doubts over how a Supreme Court decision reversing the conviction of Corona could be enforced, considering that the Senate was “outside the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in terms of the trial and judgment in an impeachment case.”

“They cannot review our decision,” he said. “Otherwise, they will be the one to make the final decision in violation of the Constitution, which says that the Senate has the sole power to decide and try all impeachment cases.”

Corona In ICU, Can’t Return To Senate Today

Chief Justice Renato Corona will have to remain under treatment and observation at the hospital’s intensive care unit at the Medical City for about 48 to 72 hours according to the doctors. Prior to this happening, Corona will be incapable of returning to the Senate today for his scheduled cross examination.

The chief justice who went through already two heat bypass operations last 1995 and 2008 was brought to the Medical City last night at 8 p.m. (Tuesday) after his 3-hour statement and a followed up controversial walk out from the impeachment court.

Midas Marquez, Supreme Court spokesman, who went with Corona and his family in the hospital, said in an interview that he stayed with Corona from 8p.m. until midnight. He added that prior of his leaving, the chief justice gave him an assurance that he would be returning to the Senate for his scheduled cross examination (supposedly today).

“I left the hospital past midnight. I was able to briefly talk with the chief justice, and he assured me that he would appear this afternoon. When I got home a few minutes later, I got the unfortunate news that he was transferred to the ICU,” Marquez said.

The lawyers for the defense of Corona said in the radio interviews that the judge may not be able to immediately return to the Senate for his scheduled cross examination due to his medical condition.

“Latest was he has an elevated [troponin T level], a prelude to a heart attack. His condition is now being stablized in the ICU of Medical City,” Ramon Esguerra told the media on Wednesday morning.

48-hour monitoring

As of 9 a.m., Esguerra said that the chief justice is already in a stable condition but still has to remain in the intensive care unit (ICU) for the next 24 hours for proper monitoring and as to what the hospital doctors’ advised.

3 doctors of the Medical City have released a medical bulletin at around 10 a.m. today about the chief justice’s condition explaining that Corona may have suffered from an acute coronary syndrome or simply heart attack.

It was also mentioned by the doctors including senior vice president for medical services, Dr. Eugenio Jose Ramos, which they had to confine Corona in the ICU because of the reason that he is considered a high-risk cardiac patient.

Furthermore, the doctors said that Corona, a diabetic person, also is suffering from a renal failure that they ruled out another surgery for the chief justice. And they stated as well that they would not be allowing Corona to return to the Senate because he should be under strict monitoring.

The Senate has sent its own medical team to the hospital to check on Corona’s medical condition.

Lawyer Karen Jimeno cited that she would want Corona to return to the Senate and face the impeachment court again on Wednesday afternoon.

Disoriented

Juan Ponce Enrile, Senate President, who was then sitting as the ruling judge in the impeachment court, affirmed that he will strike out Corona’s testimony if the chief justice failsto return for his scheduled cross examination.

Enrile highlighted that Corona’s walk out was indeed a sign of disrespect to the Senate as an impeachment court.

Enumerated in Corona’s 3-hour statement, he refused that he retained 82 dollar accounts, 31 peso accounts and 45 properties as suspected by the prosecution and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales.

Prior to Corona’s walk out, he signed a waiver allowing the government and selected banking institutions to inspect and show in public all his bank records that includes his dollar deposits.

Though, he stated in his waiver that it would only be effective if the 188 other congressmen who signed his impeachment order and even Senator Franklin Drilon would be also open with regards to their bank accounts for examination.

After the signing of the waiver and raising the challenge, Corona told the court: “The Chief Justice of the Republic of the Philippines wishes to be excused.”

He stood up and left the floor, leaving the confused crowd and senator-judges. Even his lawyers asserted that they were not immediately informed of Corona’s reason for leaving the room without being properly discharged.

Enrile immediately ordered the Senate security to lock down the compound as soon as Corona left the session hall. Corona was then wheeled back to the session hall afterwards.

It was excused by Corona’s lawyers and his son-in-law doctor that the witness left the witness stand because he did not want to throw up and collapse in the session hall’s room.

The defense team said Corona suffered from hypoglycemia.

Marquez suspected that Corona’s hypoglycemic episode during the hearing could have been part of his heart attack. He also said that they were informed at the hospital that disorientation could be one of the symptoms of heart attack.

“I noticed that when he stood up from the witness stand, he did not know where to go. That’s what they say, when you suffer a heart attack you get disoriented,” he said.

The Senator-Judge said that Corona’s illness and hospitalization does not excuse his actions at the Senate impeachment court that is scheduled on Tuesday.

Pia Cayetano said in an ANC interview that no witness or acused should hold the court hostage by his wishes and demands.

“He (Corona) wanted to be the witness and the judge because he didn’t wait for the response of the Presiding Officer. He wanted to present his evidence but sinama pa niya pati si Senator-Judge ([Franklin] Drilon,” Cayetano said.

Moreover, Cayetano said that the senator-judges will hold an assembly to probably discuss Corona’s condition.

However, Marquez said that Corona has no intention at all to disrespect the Senate. He added that the chief justice knows that under the rules of court that refusal to be cross-examined may lead to striking out of the witness’ testimony.

Meanwhile, a lawyer for Corona said he does not think Corona will resign despite poor health.

“In the five- to six-month period I’ve been with the Chief Justice. He has explained to us [that] for this case, for the judiciary, for this country, he is willing to lay down his life. He told us to proceed and fight…even against the wishes of his doctors and hisfamily, ilalaban niya ito,” Dennis Manalo said in an ANC interview.

Manalo uttered that the defense team hopes that Corona will be well enough to continue his testimony because they would not want the impeachment court to decide on the case under the present conditions.

“We are at the mercy of 23 senators who can say that ‘we don’t take that excuse, won’t accept that excuse, and not hear the rest of his (Corona’s) testimony anymore. We don’t want this case to be decided under these circumstances, it would be tragic on our part after working so hard,” said Manalo.

Tranquil Salvador, also a member of the defense team, said that they may ask the Senate court to “reset the testimony due to Corona’s illness.”

Salvador said that the rule of court allows the cancellation of a hearing if an indispensable witness is sick.

Junk Cha-cha, Church asks GMA

Church authorities Sunday advised President Arroyo to ditch the issue of Charter Change (Cha-cha) in her State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) Monday, saying that the public has rejected constitutional amendment repeatedly in the past.

Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Iniguez, head of the public affairs committee of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), said Mrs. Arroyo should instead focus on providing solutions to the problems plaguing the country.

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Enrile defends provision on school building funds

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile defended yesterday a provision in the 2009 budget of the Department of Education, which provided for the concurrence of congressmen before construction projects are started in their respective districts.

Enrile said he does not see anything wrong with such a provision in the budget.

He, however, denied responsibility for the inclusion of the provision because he has relinquished his chairmanship of the finance committee. Enrile said he was not in the bicameral committee when the agreement was reached.

“Because the congressmen would determine where the school buildings will be located, what barangays, what towns. They know the condition of the needs of the districts. I don’t think they will make money out of that,” Enrile said.

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